Emerging from the Food Coma

1. Since my MIL doesn’t travel well anymore, most of the family came to our place for Thanksgiving this year. We have a perfectly sized family room to accommodate the whole crew, and we had a lovely day together. I smoked one of our turkeys (now my favorite way to prepare it), and the other one we baked and then crock-potted. Both were delectable.

2. All the menu items turned out great (especially the Polish potatoes) except my feeble attempt to replicate “Cope’s Corn,” a dried corn that happens to be a local holiday favorite. Our stores couldn’t get any in stock this year because of the economy. So, I got regular corn and dehydrated it, but something didn’t work right in the re-hydration process, and I had to throw it out. C’est la vie. Maybe next year the cans will be back on the shelf. (The corn isn’t that great; it’s just a delivery system for butter and brown sugar. It’s also a childhood memory, so it’s a necessity at Thanksgiving.)

3. I had my annual sob-fest in the parking lot a few days ago as I was loading Thanksgiving groceries into the car. I didn’t even see it coming this year. It just hit me, yet again, that I am blessed while too many people in this world are still hungry. I had an overwhelming sense that the Spirit was saying to me, “Remember the poor.” That’s a mega-theme in Scripture, so clearly it’s something perpetually on the heart of God. It should be perpetually on our hearts, too.

4. In between meals and family laughs, I was able to work through all the primary sources containing Greek, Hebrew, or Syriac words for “veil” or “curtain,” the cultic tapestry separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Jewish temple, which is the focus of my second dissertation. I successfully made it through the Babylonian Talmud, so ancient Jewish Apocalyptic is the last block of texts to consider. That’s where things get weird. It’s not unlike the book of Revelation, an odd (to us) genre of literature that has its own set of rules for interpretation. 

5. Here’s a lament from this former newshound: The mainstream media has become the journalistic equivalent of professional wrestling—mildly entertaining in the campiest of ways, but only people with severe learning disabilities take it seriously. There’s no greater source of misinformation, disinformation, and polarization in this country than CNN and MSNBC. They’re both contemptible organizations that need to whither on the vine and become utterly irrelevant. ABC, CBS, and NBC are close behind. The NYT is beyond redemption. The View is hell on earth. FOX is less annoying to my taste, but they don’t cut it straight, either. I spent a couple decades lamenting the growing bias and spin of the media, but that turned out to be a big waste of time and energy. Now I just mock them whenever I can. The Babylon Bee has the right approach. Make fun of them every single day. They deserve it. (O.k., rant over.)

6. My daughter is two centimeters and counting. If Samuel doesn’t arrive in the next several days, she’ll be induced on Wednesday. Question: How am I supposed to read the Infancy Narrative on Christmas Day this year with a newborn in the room? That’s just a puddle waiting to happen. 

7. My son is in final preparations for his appearance in the Reading Civic Theatre’s production of Grease (December 10-12). It’s a fun musical, and I may or may not have been an Olivia Newton-John fan as a teenager.

Have a great weekend, everyone. And welcome to Advent.

The Frost Killed My Zinnias (and Other Updates)

  1. 1. I started watching Chernobyl with my son. It’s a heartbreaking mini-series about the accident that took place in 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. It was the worst disaster of its kind in terms of cost and casualties. The slow release of information (and misinformation) made it hard to know what was really going on. I was too young (or maybe too aloof) at the time to care, so this series has been a real eye opener. In three and a half decades, the mainstream media in this country have managed to surpass the wretchedness of the old Soviet propaganda machine. Three cheers, then,  for the internet—although this medium can feature its own heartbreaks from time to time. At least we can filter it out as needed.

2. I recently read that Tony nominee Andrea McArdle, who starred as Broadway’s original orphan Annie, has joined the cast of NBC’s Annie Live! I wasn’t enamored with that particular musical, but I was a major McArdle fan back in the day. She was amazing in Rainbow, where she played the incomparable Judy Garland in the star’s early years breaking into the entertainment industry. After hearing McArdle sing, “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows,” I became a fan for life. Maybe it was the mood I was in at the time, but it struck a chord. There’s a low-quality clip of it below, but it still illustrates “the little girl with a big voice.” I’m struck by the nuance and restraint she demonstrates in the piece, knowing she can belt with the best of them. McArdle will play the role of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in the live musical, set to air on December 2 (SamJam’s anticipated birthday).

3. I dropped major hints to my MIL (via my daughter) about a gift book I’d love to read over Christmas break. It’s The Mystical Nature of Light: Divine Paradox of Creation by Avraham Arieh Trugman. I’ve always been tantalized by the ontology of light. What exactly is it—a wave or a particle? Physicists tell us it displays the properties of both; hence, the wave-particle duality of light theory. Science can take us little further than that. Relatedly, one can ask, “Is Jesus human (a particle) or divine (a wave)?” Scripture says he displays the properties of both. No wonder, then, he called himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5). If scientists can propagate their duality theory of light with impunity, theologians can have our hypostatic union without fear of any justified riposte. Moreover, Einstein showed us that waves and particles are related. I suspect that’s why ontology always breaks down at some point; this world is a relational word, created by a relational God. Things only exist in relation to other things. Interestingly enough, George Whitefield once said, “Jesus was God and man in one person, that God and man might be happy together again.” Spot on. (Oh, that all the waves and particles in this world could relate to each other as they were meant to!)

4. They say that doctoral students start resenting their dissertation topics after a while. I’m not there yet, but I can understand the sentiment. I spent the day translating passages from the Mishnah, and tomorrow I need to make an attempt at translating a certain Syriac text. (I’m using the word “translate” very loosely here, as my Syriac is pretty dreadful.) It’s just the price of doing a deep dive on a single issue. The research is fun, but pulling it all together in an academic way is tedious and tiring. After it’s all finished, I’ll share some of my findings. I am blown away by the new things I’ve been learning.

5. My Thursday students loved our MBTI unit. Their favorite part—of all things—was the Jane Austen chart. They also appreciated how the instrument explains, to some extent, the different Christian spiritualities we find throughout the Body of Christ. (See below.) In the end, MBTI can be a helpful tool, but there’s more to who we are than these 16 categories. Tastebuds come to mind—but that’s another post. 🙂

  • The SP Temperament = “Artisan”
  • The SP Spirituality = “Franciscan”
  • The NT Temperament = “Rational”
  • The NT Spirituality = “Thomistic”
  • The SJ Temperament = “Guardian”
  • The SJ Spirituality = “Ignatian”
  • The NF Temperament = “Idealist”
  • The NJ Spirituality = “Augustinian”

6. The frost killed my zinnias. R.I.P., beautiful ones. See you next year—in another form. Hope springs eternal.

7. We’ll be singing a new (to us) worship song this Sunday, “King of Kings” by Brooke Ligertwood and Hillsong Worship. It’s rich and beautiful.